At just 21 years of age, Eloise has had enough incredible experiences to fill several lifetimes. There was her spell acting opposite Oscar nominees, the time she wrote music alongside Damon Albarn, the weeks she spent touring arenas across the UK with Sam Smith. And yet most remarkable of all is the fact that, undoubtedly, the best is still to come for the North London singer-songwriter.
Though born in the UK, Eloise spent her formative years in rural Normandy, where she was raised bilingual, without internet and with little access to television beyond French cartoons and old recordings of classic Hollywood musicals. “We were the epitome of free,” she recalls fondly today, describing a childhood spent roaming the fields around Livarot with her little sister, or experimenting with the instruments she found lying around the house. “It was the best way to grow up because you're not self-conscious and your compass is your own. It made me very secure in myself from an early age, and it meant I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, because I'd had the freedom to try and find out for myself.”
With her heart set on following her actor-parents into the arts, Eloise started pursuing that dream aged 10, once they had moved back to London. By the age of 12 she’d landed a leading role in a British arthouse film, acting opposite Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy, an experience which was to prove even more pivotal than anyone could have anticipated. After overhearing her sing on set, the director suggested Eloise become involved with the soundtrack, and sent her into the studio to work with the man in charge of the film’s score, Damon Albarn.
“When I made music with Damon, I realised that this is the stuff that feeds me; this is why I'm here on Earth. And from then on it was like, oh so I'm not going to act, I’m going to be a musician. It was really clear.”
Music has always been in Eloise’s blood. Back in France, she was absorbed her parents’ diverse record collections - which ranged from Jim Croce, The Eagles and Joni Mitchell to the musicals of Steven Sondheim and Gilbert and Sullivan - and took piano lessons and sang in a choir. By her early teens she was teaching herself guitar by looking up songs on YouTube and mimicking the chord shapes she saw.
As Eloise explains, it was on a school music trip to New York that she first discovered the power of her voice. “We were performing in Central Park on a bandstand, and I sang 'Son of a Preacher Man'. I closed my eyes at this big loud bit, and when I opened them there were people stopping to watch. It was then I realised, yeah I think I can move people.”
It was aged 17, while studying at Croydon’s prestigious BRIT School, that Eloise kickstarted the next phase of her career by posting acoustic cover versions to Instagram. Within days of posting her rendition of Bruno Major’s ‘Second Time’, Major himself reached out and invited her to duet at his upcoming London show. Impressing at the gig, Eloise was subsequently invited to join Major on his US headline tour and a UK arena tour with Sam Smith, playing a solo set and contributing keyboards and backing vocals as part of Major’s band.
Eloise’s debut EP, This Thing Called Living, followed in 2019, introducing the world to her strain of breezy, acoustic soul, and the entrancing, jazz-tinged cadence of her honeyed tones. It has since racked up more than 25 million streams and even received support from Billie Eilish, who took to Instagram to cover ‘Left Side’.
“I think only now am I realising how mad the last four years of my life have been,” Eloise laughs. “For that reason, I think the forthcoming second EP is kind of a comedown EP, dealing with what happens when the dust has settled from all the madness and all you’re left with is this complex series of feelings that you didn’t have time to deal with at the time.”
Set for release in 2021, Somewhere in Between represents a huge leap forward artistically for Eloise. Recorded during lockdown with her mentor Major, the entire eight-track collection was composed and arranged by Eloise - save for ‘Wanderlust’ which was written with her friend Jimmy Napes [Alicia Keys, Sam Smith] - and deftly blends the warmth of acoustic guitar with forward-thinking, electronic production, while showcasing the singer’s feather-light melisma to spellbinding effect.
Today, Eloise bills it as a “growing pains EP”, documenting the protracted transition between adolescence and adulthood, and laying bare all the emotional trials that come with being marooned in that liminal space. As she puts it, “I feel my job is to write about all the ugly feelings: the things that are in-between fuck you songs and being in love songs.”
While Eloise describes the experience of writing the record as “emotional and cathartic,” she’s remarkably sanguine about sacrificing her personal comfort for her art. “It's going to be uncomfortable shedding an old skin because you're exposing new parts of yourself to a world that you know nothing about. But progress and growth only happens one step outside of your comfort zone, so I've learned to be more fearless.”
A soaring talent making timeless soul packed with youthful verve, Eloise is unquestionably a huge star in waiting. Look out for her embracing her very bright future with both arms.